Graft probes stepped up
Suspect questioned in bank loan scandal as two more arrested for submarines
The judiciary stepped up a corruption probe yesterday, arresting two officials suspected of accepting bribes for a submarine deal and questioning the first suspect in a scandal embroiling the state-led Hellenic Postbank (TT) in the issuing of millions of euros in unsecured loans.
The former managing director of Skaramangas Shipyards, Sotiris Emmanouil, and an associate of ex-Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, Yiannis Beltsios, were arrested in connection with taking bribes to secure arms deals. Emmanouil is said to have received some 23 million euros to secure submarine deals with German firm HDW Ferrostaal. Authorities arrested him in his luxury home, which was seized.
Warrants for the arrest of the two men were issued after former Defense Ministry official Apostolos Kantas alleged during testimony that they had received under-the-table payments.
Both were given extensions to prepare their defense – Emmanouil to Friday and Beltsios to Saturday – and will remain in custody until then.
In a related development, sources said 7.5 million euros was returned to the state by Giorgos Kamaris, the representative of an offshore firm believed to have been set up by Yiannis Sbokos, a close associate of former Defense Minister Tsochatzopoulos, in order to cover the kickback trail. Sbokos was jailed for money laundering, along with the ex-minister, in October.
Judicial officials also moved forward yesterday with the probe into TT, which is alleged to have granted huge loans without guarantees to entrepreneurs, with much of the money allegedly ending up in personal bank accounts.
TT’s ex-chairman Angelos Filippidis is expected to be extradited to Greece from Turkey, sources indicated yesterday as magistrates started hearing the explanations of suspects in the affair.
Arrested in Istanbul late on Friday, Filippidis remained in custody yesterday. He has insisted that all the loans were issued properly.
Judicial officials yesterday questioned senior TT executive Marios Varotsis. He was given conditional release after posting 300,000 euros in bail. Another ex-TT employee, Charalambos Giakoudis, is to face questioning today, as will a key suspect – the owner of Alpha TV channel and the Interamerican insurance company, Dimitris Kontominas, who is alleged to have been granted a 110-billion loan by TT.